When it comes to spiders, I’m a size queen. In fact, it seems like all of us who procrastinate by watching spider videos prefer our hairy, eight-legged arachnids to be of the super-sized variety. Case in point: Search for “giant spider” on YouTube, and you’ll find tens of thousands of videos showing people — more often than not ones with Australian accents — filming, freaking out about and then capturing rather large spiders. In some cases, the big spiders fight scorpions or snakes while the guy operating the camera laughs in horror.
Yet there’s one problem that my fellow spider-video enthusiasts and I have with this genre of YouTube content: The spider in the thumbnail, with an alleged enormity that can cover a good portion of a wall or ceiling, never ends up being that big at all. For example:
The same goes for this thumbnail, too, which I hoped would be a true giant spider, one so big it wouldn’t be an overreaction to burn down my house upon discovering it:
But after watching two minutes of grainy camera phone footage, I ultimately realized that said “huge spider” was barely the size of a human thumbnail.
I’m not alone in this observation either. Judging by the comments, it’s clear that there’s a growing audience of viewers who, when searching for giant, dangerous spiders, are disappointed to find tiny, harmless ones instead.
That said, it doesn’t stop my brethren and me from searching for that elusive giant among indoor pests. U.K.-based Tarantula Dan has more than 50,000 YouTube subscribers; he posts videos of himself looking after his collection of tarantulas and camel spiders. Meanwhile, Tom Moran, who has over 60,000 subscribers, makes instructional videos about the correct ways to look after big spiders, including the right kind of hot sauce to feed them.
“YouTube has definitely made people more interested in spiders, and in keeping them as pets,” says Conor Crew, a London-based spider keeper and tamer, who also helps tarantulas be rehomed.
“The [thumbnails] of large spiders are probably there to get clicks,” he laughs. “The thing is, you’re probably never going to find a spider as big as a toilet bowl, or one that covers your sofa. That’s just camera trickery.”
In Crew’s line of work, though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “There are a lot of people who are afraid of spiders, but they’re also fascinated by them, so they use YouTube to watch a spider while also feeling safe,” he tells me. “After a while, some of them see how gentle spiders are and how they can be very easy to look after. It’s like going into a pet shop to see the ‘weird’ and ‘gross’ spider but realizing that it’s actually quite gentle and tame.”
Personally, I’m still gonna keep my distance. Or better put, I’m far more comfortable watching people on YouTube freak out over big spiders they find in their garage, only to complain in the comments that the spiders aren’t that big anyway.